Centre businesses network, share, support and outsource
Companies moving into Harborough Innovation Centre are fast becoming friendly with their neighbours, as resident businesses network, share expertise and outsource work to each other.
The Centre, based at the entrance to the town’s new Airfield Business Park, first opened its doors last August and is already home to 26 innovative businesses – all united in a shared ambition to grow their businesses.
Technical solutions company Codestring moved into Harborough Innovation Centre three months ago and within a few days had picked up new work from neighbouring companies.
Steve Irons, who co- runs the company with business partner Richard van Aken, said: “Being here ensures we have a potential customer based right on our doorstep, so our growth aspirations are already on track. In our first week the Centre Manager asked us to speak about the “Cloud” at the Centre’s monthly networking breakfast event and this prompted lots of enquiries and work opportunities.
“As well as doing work for Centre businesses we get a lot of jobs outsourced to us from agencies in London. We turn concepts into a reality and have a host of high profile customers including an electronics company and a fast food company.”
Another client required a Europe wide multilingual website to allow their customers to claim their free map updates. Codestring were commissioned to build a platform that would work in any county and language and could be ready with little notice to support marketing activity in store.
Steve added: “The recession has actually helped us. When things are good major brands spend money on advertising. When money is tight they have to become better marketers, which is when promotions and money off offers become popular. That is where our expertise is needed. We are also seeing an upsurge in brands use of social media to promote their offers.”
One company already outsourcing to Codestring is Orangeade Ltd, which moved into Harborough Innovation Centre in February. The company designs, installs and monitors GPS asset tracking devices, so its customers can view and manage the movement of their vehicles, products and people.
Managing Director Mark Gamble said: “Being in the Centre has meant we have met lots of new people and a variety of different businesses. As a result we are spending money within the Centre, outsourcing to each other and have also had business leads that have resulted in work.”
Rachel Panther, Regional Director of Oxford Innovation, which manages the Harborough Centre, said: “All our resident companies are focused on growing their businesses and the serviced office format means companies can concentrate on the needs of their business and on expansion, recruitment and success.”
Harborough Innovation Centre, which was set up to act as a thriving hub for local businesses to launch, innovate and grow in, provides a range of 53 offices and studios plus meeting rooms and resident entrepreneurs deal in everything from drainage and design, to prunes, property, recruitment and IT.
Harborough Innovation Centre was made possible thanks to a £200,000 investment by Harborough District Council, which in turn led to £4million of European funding through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Councillor Mike Rook, Leader of Harborough District Council, commented: “An estimated 180 jobs will be brought to the area by the Centre and we are already seeing job creation and growth happen, with companies working with and for each other, sharing ideas and expertise and networking. The Centre is here to nurture and support companies with real growth potential, so if you think you would benefit from the Centre’s supportive environment and corporate community please pop in and see it for yourself.”
Harborough Innovation Centre is managed by Oxford Innovation, which operates a network of 20 business and innovation centres across the country, providing office and laboratory space for over 500 businesses. Occupiers benefit from flexible letting arrangements and a range of support through Oxford Innovation, which includes funding assistance through business angel investment networks, mentoring and networking events.